Position: Third baseman
Eddie Mathews holds the NL single-
season record for the most RBI (135)
by a third baseman.
Edwin Lee Mathews (1931-2001) was a muscular high school baseball and football star in 1949 in Santa Barbara, California. He was pursued by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who offered a $10,000 contract, although signing a free agent for more than $6,000 meant that he had to stay on the major-league roster for two seasons.
He was also courted by the Boston Braves, who offered $6,000. Eddie researched the rosters, and decided that the Braves would give him the best opportunity to start quickly. Also, he didn't want to sit on a major-league bench for two years. Mathews batted .363 with 17 homers in 1949 in his first season in pro baseball, and he had 32 homers and 106 RBI for Atlanta of the Southern League in 1950.
Mathews was promoted to Boston in 1952, and though he fanned a league-high 115 times his rookie season, he also cracked 25 homers. The next season, the franchise's first in Milwaukee, he won his first homer title, hitting 47. He provided power the next three seasons, getting 37 or more homers and 95 or more RBI from 1954 to '56. In 1957, he batted .292 with 32 homers and 94 RBI, as the Braves won the world championship. He hit .251 with 31 homers as the Braves won the pennant in 1958. Eddie won the homer crown in 1959 with 46.
Mathews hit at least 30 homers in nine seasons, four times hitting over 40. He led the league in walks four times, had 90 or more bases on balls nine times, and scored at least 95 runs in 10 straight seasons. One reason he scored so much was that he batted ahead of Aaron. Playing with Henry may have obscured Mathews's performance, but while together, they hit 863 home runs, more than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mathews was Aaron's manager in 1974, the year he broke Ruth's career home run record.
When Mathews joined the Boston Braves in 1952, he played the hot corner poorly, but he matured into a capable third baseman. He led the NL in putouts twice, assists three times, and fielding average once. He is in the top ten among third sackers in career double plays.
In 1962, Mathews injured his shoulder. He continued to play, but his ability gradually declined. After one year in Atlanta in 1966, he was traded to the Astros. He also played with the Tigers before retiring. Eddie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
Here are Eddie Mathews' major league totals:
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